About 150 people showed up to the Friday night California Public Utility Comission (CPUC) hearing about proposed local power plants, including the Quail Brush Power Plant project that would be built near Santee. The location would also be adjacent to Mission Trails Regional Park in La Mesa.
Opposition groups, including Save Mission Trails and The Sierra Club, showed up in full force for a rally before the meeting and packed the seats inside. Dozens of speakers argued passionately to a commission representative who will bring notes of the meeting back to the CPUC- most spoke against the plants, and a only one in favor of their construction. County Supervisor Dave Roberts and Santee City Councilmember Jack Dale spoke out against the project as well.
"This plant [Quail Brush] is proposed for this spot simply because they'll make more money," said Dale.
Dale finished his remarks by saying that every group in Santee that has spoken publicly about Quail Brush has spoken in opposition.
Roberts said he would do everything in his power to stop these "wrong plants at the wrong places."
The ony speaker in favor of constructing the plants cautioned about NIMBYism (not in my back yard) and said "we can't just say no to everything."
Two draft decisions released by the CPUC in November suggest that the commission won't approve the 20-year power purchase agreement lined up by San Diego Gas & Electric and Cogentrix in anticipation of future regional energy needs.
The decision isn't final until the CPUC votes on the issue, and draft decisions can still be amended. According to CPUC records, Cogentrix met with CPUC officials in private in early December, and since then the vote to finalize the decision has been delayed at least twice.
"We understand that this is now a decision based more on political power than power generation," said Van Collinsworth, a vocal oppenent to the project and Resource Analyst/Executive Director for Preserve Wild Santee.
The main question before the CPUC is whether the San Diego region needs more electricity generation capability to keep the grid powered during high use days. Many public speakers touched on this topic and agreed with the CPUC draft decisions that none of the proposed plants are currently necessary on that basis.
"There have been no recent power outages in the region due to lack of generation," said Collinsworth.
"Even with San Onofre offline we're doing fine on hot days," said former California Assembymember Lori Saldaña.
"Solar is the direction we want to go as a community and state," she said.